CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS
TEXAS MOTORPLEX IN ENNIS, TEXAS
SUNDAY, OCT. 15, 2017
Chevrolet Sweeps Three Pro Classes to Kick off Second Half of the Countdown
• Brittany Force claims third Top Fuel win of season, moves to second in standings
• Robert Hight closes to 24 points of Funny Car lead, resets racetrack records
• Jason Line continues Chevrolet Camaro SS domination of Pro Stock with win
• Jeff Lopez earns Stock Eliminator runner-up finish in Chevrolet COPO Camaro
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 15, 2017) – Chevrolet dominated the fourth round of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, sweeping to victories in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock competition in the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.
In the process, the three winners tightened the title races in their respective professional classes entering the penultimate event of the Countdown — the Oct. 27-29 NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas. FS1 will telecast qualifications live at 6 p.m. ET Oct. 27 and eliminations at 4 p.m. ET Oct. 29.
Brittany Force, driving the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster, set the Texas Motorplex elapsed time record of 3.681 seconds at 326.87 seconds in the Top Fuel final to claim her third victory of the season and sixth in her 118-race career. It was the second career win for Force from the No. 5 qualifier spot.
Force dispatched No. 2 qualifier Doug Kalitta, who was second in the standings, and points front-runner Steve Torrence on the way to fourth final round of the season and 15th of her career. She moved to second in the Top Fuel standings.
“Two people that are ahead of us, Kalitta and Torrence, and we took them out. It felt good,” she said. “A lot needed to happen but it went our way. We needed to go rounds. I felt confident we were going to turn on those win lights. It was a huge win for us.”
John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight, second in the Funny Car standings, closed to 24 points of front-runner Ron Capps by defeating the reigning champion in the final with a pass of 3.877 seconds and 332.34 mph in the AAA of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS.
It was the fourth win of the season, the third at Texas Motorplex and 41st of Hight’s career. Hight, the No. 1 qualifier for the third event in a row, the eighth time this season, the sixth time at the racetrack, and the 57th time in his career, moved into sole possession of ninth on the all-time NHRA list among professional drivers. Seven of his career victories have come from the No. 1 position.
“That was a 40-point swing,” said Hight, who is 4-2 against Capps in final rounds and posted his third victory at Texas Motorplex. “Basically, we were 44 points behind going into the final. Had I lost, we would have been 64 but we turned it into 24. With two races to go, I’ll definitely take that.”
Hight reset both ends of the Funny Car track record in the first round of eliminations with a pass of 3.828 seconds at 338.6 mph. Hight, who had set the track elapsed time record in October 2016, has set the top speed of an event 12 times, equaling his total of the past five seasons combined.
Jason Line, who won the Pro Stock season opener at Pomona, California, picked up his second victory of the season in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS. The reigning champion, who has 47 career wins, bested Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the final.
“With the playoff format, now is what matters,” said Line, who recorded his third victory at the track. “Hopefully, I can give Greg (Anderson) and Bo (Butner) something to think about for the next couple of weeks. It’s not over.
Chevrolet, which has won all 22 Pro Stock races, swept the top 10 qualifier spots and won each elimination round. Skillman defeated four-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Line dispatched Brian Self (Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the semifinals. Anderson retained the points lead, with KB Racing teammate Bo Butner (Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) 15 points arrears and Line 30 points back.
First-round winners included rookie sensation Tanner Gray (Gray Motorsports/Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS), No. 1 qualifier Butner, Alex Laughlin (Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro SS), and Eric Enders (Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS).
John Force, driving the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, fouled in his Funny Car quarterfinal race with reigning Funny Car champion Ron Capps when he tripped the red light. Force, the No. 10 qualifier, is the only professional driver to compete in every NHRA race at Texas Motorplex dating to its 1986 opening.
Force, who has seven victories and 11 No. 1 qualifier honors at the racetrack south of Dallas, has a 29-7 record in the first round of eliminations and is 72-28 overall.
Courtney Force, the No. 6 qualifier and a two-time runner-up in the four Countdown races, fell in the first round of eliminations. The pink Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS she was driving this weekend to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also will be on the track in two weeks at Las Vegas, where she was runner-up to her father, John, in Funny Car competition in 2016.
In Stock Eliminator, Jeff Lopez of Irving, Texas, the No. 5 qualifier in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, was the runner-up. Two-time Pro Stock champion Enders was the No. 3 qualifier of 61 entries in a 2017 Chevrolet COPO Camaro.
Two Texas residents driving their Chevrolet COPO Camaros stood out in Super Stock competition. Arthur Kohn of Richmond was the No. 3 qualifier of the 46 entries and won his opening-round elimination match-up, while Philip Giles of Flatonia advanced to the third round of eliminations.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to all the Chevrolet teams and drivers for an exciting weekend of racing in Texas and a Chevrolet sweep of three pro classes. With Brittany Force in Top Fuel, Robert Hight in Funny Car and Jason Line in Pro Stock winning, the points races in the championships have tightened, and it will be an exciting race weekend at Las Vegas in two weeks.”
An interview with top Fuel winner BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET TOP FUEL DRAGSTER (No. 5 qualifier; second career victory from No. 5 spot; third win of season and sixth in 118-race career; second in points):
Q: YOU LOOK GOOD IN A COWBOY HAT.
BRITTANY FORCE: Thank you. It’s my first one. To be honest, I didn’t know which way was front and which way was back.
Q: YOU DID NOT HAVE AN EASY ROUND ALL DAY.
BRITTANY FORCE: This far along in the game, it’s going to be tough. Two people that are ahead of us, (Doug) Kalitta and (Steve) Torrence, and we took them out. It felt good. A lot needed to happen but it went our way. We needed to go rounds. I felt confident we were going to turn on those win lights. It was a huge win for us.
Q: YOU’RE IN THE THICK OF THIS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WITH TWO RACES TO GO.
BRITTANY FORCE: We’re exactly where we needed to be – standing here in the winner’s circle. We have two more and we’re going after it.
Q: WHEN YOU’RE UP THERE, DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHO YOU’RE RACING AGAINST?
BRITTANY FORCE: I’ll look at points before we go up and make a run. I look at the person in front of me (in line) and keep moving up. I just take it one run at a time and try to keep moving up that ladder. I don’t care what’s going on around me. I can’t be concerned about the points because I won’t be doing my job in the car.
Q: YOU’RE PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME. YOU HAVE TWO RACES THAT IF YOU PERFORM YOU COULD WIN A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.
BRITTANY FORCE: That seems surreal. I’ve only been out here five years, and to think about a championship is unreal. We’re getting closer and closer. We’re chasing Steve (Torrence), and we’re going to chase him all the way to the end of this thing.
Q: IT’S GOT TO BE GREAT FOR YOU AND ROBERT (HIGHT) DO DELIVER A DOUBLE.
BRITTANY FORCE: We’ve had two double ups with Robert. It’s huge for John Force Racing and really pumps us up going into the next two races.
Q: WHAT DOES THIS DO TO SECURE A SPONSORSHIP FOR BEXT YEAR?
BRITTANY FORCE: It’s definitely helpful We’re peaking at the right time. It took us longer to figure our car out and really figure the track out each weekend. But we’re here now and ready to play. We figured out the problem and now two more left.
Q: TALK ABOUT THOSE LAST TWO RACES.
BRITTANY FORCE: Vegas and Pomona. Those are two of my favorite tracks. To get a win there would be awesome. That’s what we’re going there to do.
An interview with Funny Car winner ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AAA OF TEXAS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 1 qualifier for third race in a row and 57th in career; 41st career victory; reset both ends of track record in first round of eliminations):
Q: UNTIL THE FINAL ROUND OF QUALIFYING, YOU DIDN’T HAVE A HANDLE ON THE CAR.
ROBERT HIGHT: I figured we would go out in Q4 and make a nice, safe run and get in the top half and be ready to race. When I went down there and lifted and hit the chutes and saw the scoreboard 3.871, I was blown away. It’s the guys on the AAA of Texas Chevy team. This is three races in a row we’ve been No. 1 qualifier.
Q: FIRST ROUND TODAY, YOU SET THE TRACK RECORDS.
ROBERT HIGHT: In the track walk, I’m running my mouth saying there’s going to be track records and maybe national records because of the conditions we had today. Then you see the first three pairs of Funny Cars go up in smoke. You have (co-crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham and these guys in your corner, and it gives you a lot of confidence. So we go out there and run 3.82 at 338.60. That was a monster run. The big deal was we got the win.
Q: FINAL ROUND, RON CAPPS.
ROBERT HIGHT: That was a 40-point swing. Basically, we were 44 points behind going into the final. Had I lost, we would have been 64 but we turned it into 24. With two races to go, I’ll definitely take that. We needed that one. We would have been bummed leaving here more than three rounds back.
Q: TELL ME ABOUT PREPARATION FOR A BIG FINAL LIKE THAT.
ROBERT HIGHT: I’ve never seen a more focused individual than Jimmy Prock. Nothing rattles him. That’s the way you have to be as a driver. We have to do our jobs to get it back. The game is one. Anything can happen; there’s a lot of racing left. We’re going to Vegas with different conditions. We make a lot of horsepower and I like our chances there. I know we can do this.
Q: EVERY MOVE MUST BE PRESSURE-PACKED THESE LAST TWO RACES?
ROBERT HIGHT: You can’t look at it and put more pressure on yourself. If you start doing that, then you’ve changed what got you here. You got here focusing and knowing what you got to do to win. You change that up because of pressure and you’re going to screw up. It will be what it will be. This Countdown creates a lot of excitement.
An interview with Pro Stock winner JASON LINE, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier; second victory of season and 47th of career; reigning Pro Stock champion):
Q: YOU CAME OUT OF THE BOX HOT, BUT THEN YOU COULDN’T SEEM TO GET THE BREAK YOU NEEDED.
JASON LINE: I’d rather talk about today because my season really isn’t worth talking about. My season has been mediocre at best. We finally get the car running fast in the Countdown and we have a shot at this thing.
Q: DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS?
JASON LINE: No, but I know I’m not leading (30 points out of first). That’s not bad, so I can give my two teammates (front-runner Greg Anderson and Bo Butner) something to worry about. It’s been a great weekend overall.
Q: YOU ARE PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME.
JASON LINE: It was a huge event. I test something every run. I’m a tinkerer, so that gets me in trouble and it takes Rob Downing and the Mike Edwards to bring me back to reality. With the playoff format, now is what matters. Hopefully, I can give Greg (Anderson) and Bo (Butner) something to think about for the next couple of weeks. It’s not over.
Q: YOU’VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS HERE. WHAT RAISES YOUR GAME HERE?
JASON LINE: For me, this weekend was do or die. If you didn’t win here this weekend, the chances of winning the championship were slim to none. I was lucky enough to win.
Q: TWO RACES REMAIN. IT’S INTENSE.
JASON LINE: Yes, a big deal. It’s crunch time. I hate pressure. I’m going to have to figure out how to harness that and do a better job with it. I like really boring, big points leads and that is out the window. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be fun to watch from the spectators’ perspective. Greg is a pretty intense guy and he’s going to be really tough to beat, and it might take Bo and myself to get it done.
Q: HAS 2017 PLAYED OUT LIKE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD?
JASON LINE: Well, maybe. I’ve been accused of being a lazy winner. Sometimes when people accomplish a goal they’re not as hungry as they once were. But this is a good time of year to have a big appetite. I’ve been pretty much incognito the entire year, which is not good from my sponsor’s standpoint. We’re trying to get it done now and hopefully we can bring home that big check at the end of the year.
Q: ANY THREE OF YOU COULD WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP.
JASON LINE: With the level of competition in Pro Stock, to have our three cars at the top is surprising because there’s a bunch of good cars out there and a bunch of good drivers. It’s a testament to our group. It’s a nice feeling. I like where we’re at.